Licks are short melodic ideas of 2, 4 or 8 measures that jazz players use in their solos. Almost all players use them to one degree or another when they improvise. Learning licks is a good way to build your melodic vocabulary while you are learning to improvise your own melodic lines. Each lesson in this ongoing series deconstructs a lick and explains why it sounds good, how to use it in your own improvisations and how to learn it in all twelve keys.
Jessica Williams is a player deserving wider recognition but has recorded prolifically. And she can spin out inventive lick after inventive lick. Check out this elegant lick from her 1997 Candid release, "Higher Standards," that she uses to introduce her solo to the tune "When Your Lover Has Gone."
Benny Green is a hard swinging and intense modern jazz pianist built from the hard bop mold. Influenced by Bud Powell, Phineas Newborn and Oscar Peterson, his solos are both technically challenging yet harmonically straightforward, adhering closely to the underlying chord progression. An overflowing font of bebop licks, his solos are an unending source of material for beginning and seasoned improvisors alike. Three such licks from his breakneck solo over the Bud Powell tune "Celia," recorded on his 1993 Blue Note trio disc "That's Right," are considered in this lesson. Learn how they are constructed, how to transpose them and how to use them in your own solos.